Liverpool Philharmonic announces Vasily Petrenko as Conductor Laureate from summer 2021

The transformational combination of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and its Chief Conductor, Vasily Petrenko, will continue from 2021 with Petrenko becoming the Orchestra’s Conductor Laureate.

By 2021, Petrenko will have led the Orchestra for 15 years, making him one of the longest-serving conductors in its 178-year-old history. During his time with Liverpool Philharmonic, Petrenko has been instrumental in raising its musical excellence and increasing the number of recordings, commissions and international tours undertaken by the Orchestra, all of which have radically raised its profile and standing.  Audiences in Liverpool have grown by 36% during this time.

Before opening his 13th season with the Orchestra in Liverpool on 20th September with Brahms’ First Symphony, commencing a survey of the complete Brahms symphonies, he leads the Orchestra on a five-concert tour to China, followed by their fifth performance together at the BBC Proms on 29 August. To close the 2018-2019, he’ll conduct Elgar’s The Music Makers with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir which will also be recorded in his continuing Elgar series.

Other highlights with Petrenko in the 2018-2019 season include his celebrated interpretations of the works of Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Prokofiev.  He will also conduct Principal Cello, Jonathan Aasgaard, in the haunting Cello Concerto by Mieczysław Weinberg, to mark his centenary year.  Recording plans include the next instalments of Stravinsky’s ballet music following the release earlier this year of the Rite of Spring alongside Rachmaninov’s Spring and Debussy’s Printemps (ONYX) and his continuing survey of the music of Elgar with the release of his recording of the Enigma Variations.

Liverpool Philharmonic is actively engaged in planning future seasons with Maestro Petrenko. These will include a cycle of Mahler Symphonies, a wide ranging Beethoven project in 2020 and signature Petrenko repertoire through to the summer of 2021.

 Vasily Petrenko said:

 “I love Liverpool Philharmonic and all my colleagues, our audiences, donors, funders and supporters.  It’s a great family which I’m proud to be part of.  And I’m passionate about Liverpool, one of the greatest cities anywhere in the world.  We’ve achieved so much and I’m looking forward very much to the next three years working together as one of the world’s great orchestras and the pride of Liverpool.

 “By 2021, my family and I will have enjoyed 15 amazing years here and I’m proud to be one of the longest-serving conductors in the Orchestra’s long and distinguished history.  Now the time feels right for me to take on new challenges. I am so honoured to be named as Conductor Laureate, and to maintain my links with Liverpool, of which our Orchestra is the jewel in the crown.”

 Michael Eakin, Chief Executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic said:

“To have retained one of the world’s most in-demand conductors for 15 years is a great testament to the Orchestra and to Liverpool, but it is right that Vasily should seek new opportunities and challenges to further develop his position as one of the world’s great musicians. We wish him well with his new appointment and future career.

“Vasily is deeply committed to providing opportunities for people to enjoy and participate in music from the earliest age.  He is engaged in every aspect of our work, both on and off the concert platform and has helped build new audiences for classical music in Liverpool, including many young people.    It’s a great pleasure to work with him as a colleague, but he is also our friend, and in making him Conductor Laureate, we know our friendship will endure beyond 2021.

“We look forward to the next three years with Vasily as our Chief Conductor, and with the Orchestra playing at the top of its game, we’ll now begin our international search for a world-class candidate to succeed him.”

Petrenko has been appointed as Music Director of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a role he will take up at the start of their 2021-2022 concert season.


Born in 1976 and recognised as one of the most exciting musicians of his generation, Petrenko took up the baton as Principal Conductor in Liverpool in 2006 for an initial three years.  He is the youngest person and the first Russian in the 178-year history of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic to have been appointed Principal Conductor.  In 2009, he became Chief Conductor.  When he steps down in summer 2021, Petrenko will be one of the Orchestra’s longest serving conductors.

Petrenko’s dynamic musical partnership with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, has earned a global reputation for excellence. Their concerts, broadcasts and recordings have attracted international critical acclaim, plaudits and awards, and helped build new audiences for classical music, including many young people.

Amongst many musical highlights have been their on-going explorations of the music of Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mahler; world premiere performances including Sir John Tavener’s Requiem, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Symphony No. 9 which they also took to the BBC Proms in 2012; and Proms in 2008, 2010, 2012 2014 and 2016.  The Orchestra and Petrenko return to the Proms this year. They were the soundtrack to Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture Year in 2008, playing a central role in the delivery and success of many of its festival programmes and events in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and other city venues.

 The commissioning of new music has been central to the Orchestra during Petrenko’s tenure. This year’s Prom visit includes Iain Bell’s piece for coloratura soprano which will join a long list of such commissions from composers including Kenneth Hesketh, Emily Howard, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Since his appointment in 2006, Petrenko has led the Orchestra on tours to China, Japan, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Netherlands, Germany, Romania and the Czech Republic.  They have recently returned from a second sell-out tour to Japan and tour to China for a third time in July this year.

Additions with Petrenko to the Orchestra’s distinguished recordings catalogue include the first instalment of a series of recordings of Stravinsky’s ballet music, beginning with the Rite of Spring; award-winning surveys of Rachmaninov’s symphonies, orchestral works and complete piano concertos with Simon Trpčeski; the complete symphonies of Shostakovich, and Elgar; and Tchaikovsky‘s symphonies and piano concertos, all of which have garnered world-wide critical acclaim.  The recording of Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 and 5, won ‘Recording of the Year’ and ‘Orchestral Recording of the Year’ at the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017. 

In 2017, Vasily Petrenko was honoured with the Artist of the Year award at the prestigious annual Gramophone Awards, one decade on from receiving their Young Artist of the Year award in 2007. In 2010 and 2012, he won Male Artist of the Year at the Classic Brit Awards. In 2016 he was made a Citizen of Honour of the City of Liverpool and is only the second person to have been awarded Honorary Doctorates by both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University (in 2009), and an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University (in 2012), honours which recognise the immense impact he has had on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the city’s cultural scene. In 2018, he was conferred with an honorary degree by the University of York.


Further Information:

Jayne Garrity, Head of Communications, Liverpool Philharmonic: 0151 210 3791 / 07967 364241

National Media Enquries

Simon Millward, Director, Albion Media: 020 3077 4940  / 07990 507310

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